Alumnus Kenton Hipsher Telling Black, Brown Professionals STEM Stories

Friday, July 16, 2021
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The social media-based #BlackProfessionals Project features 2017 biology alumnus Kenton Hipsher interviewing Black and Brown professionals, including several fellow alumni, about their career experiences and journeys.

Speaking with his high school-aged nephew about future career aspirations, 2017 biology alumnus Kenton Hipsher recalled his career planning experience and a problem many people of color face growing up – the lack of young professional mentors and public awareness about careers, particularly in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

After all, Black and Hispanic people with a bachelor’s degree or higher make up only 17% of the nation’s STEM workforce; Black people occupy 3.2% of the senior leadership roles at U.S. large companies; and less than 1 percent of all Fortune 500 chief executive officers in the country are Black.

Hipsher founded The #BlackProfessionals Project in June 2020 to inspire Black and Brown youths by highlighting YouTube and social media interviews with professionals – several of them fellow Rose-Hulman alumni (see note on page) – sharing their career experiences and journeys. He also utilizes LinkedIn and Facebook communities to connect kids with professionals from underrepresented groups, and partners with schools and community groups across America to share his professional journeys.

This effort has had Hipsher interviewing such professionals as TheDoubleTalk Twins (Hannibal and Malcolm Brooks), discussing market research and human psychology; Ashley Queen, director of microbiology and public health at the American Cleaning Institute; Chan Zuckerberg Initiative science program manager Norbert Tavares; global pharmaceutical product strategist Dominique Kagele; and Crystal Humphries, a biotechnology senior data scientist.

The interviews are casual conversations, recorded through Zoom from his home studio, that typically last about 30 minutes.

“It has been super cool learning where these professionals have come from, what they are doing and the challenges they have encountered along the way, especially how they learned and adapted from those experiences,” he says. “I have been hyped by the love and positivity that I received from other Black and Brown professionals who saw the work that I’m doing.”

Hipsher has recorded more than 40 interviews, with nearly 30 being posted on The #BlackProfessionals Project’s YouTube channel.

The #BlackProfessionals Project interviews can be viewed at:
www.youtube.com/c/TheBlackProfessionalsProject/videos

As for Hipsher’s journey, the Indianapolis native took his strong foundation in the sciences, nurtured by RHIT’s quality biology program, to earn a master’s degree in microbiology from the University of Georgia. He worked in a variety of technical jobs before settling in California and managing sales with Geltor, Inc., a biotechnology company.

Don’t be surprised if Hipsher’s own story isn’t featured in the project soon. Stay tuned!

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Alumni Provide STEM Perspectives

Kenton Hipsher has tapped into a familiar group to provide The #BlackProfessionals Project viewers information about a variety of STEM careers – several of his former RHIT classmates, track and field teammates, and National Society of Black Engineers chapter members. This alumni group includes 2015 mathematics/economics alumna Angelica Cox, mathematics teaching; 2018 electrical engineering alumna Jada Davis, electrical engineering; 2018 biomedical engineering graduate Stanley Hogan, process automation; 2014 biomedical engineering alumna Grace Johnson-Bann, biomedical device regulation; 2017 biomedical engineering alumnus Malcolm Marshall, patents and innovation; 2018 mechanical engineering alumnus Jae Murray, production engineering; 2017 software engineering graduate Isaiah Smith, project coordination; 2015 computer engineering alumnus Vashon Solomon, embedded systems; 2015 mechanical engineering graduate Marcus Tucker, manufacturing; and 2019 mechanical engineering alumna Linnell Williams, a second lieutenant in the U.S. Space Force. 

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